Once again, I am inspired by Rory at Fourth Street Review. She mixes it up this time by taking one album and picking a whole bunch of books that fit the theme. I’m doing my usual thing: one book, one song.
The Book: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The Song: We Are Shadows by Leaves
Now comes the darkening sky and a cold wind that passes right through you, as though you are not there, it passes through you as though it does not care whether you are alive or dead, for you will be gone and the wind will still be there.
This book snuck up on me. I was skeptical from the get go; there was too much hype. I still think it’s overrated, but by the end, the overwrought quality of the writing fell away and it became as spare and beautiful as I heard it was.
I resisted the urge to pair Burial Rites with Bjork. I’ve already used a Bjork song for one of these posts, for one thing, and it’s just too obvious. So I sought out the music of the one other Icelandic band I know – Leaves. Like most North Americans, I discovered Leaves when their song Breathe was featured on The O.C. Leaves have put out a few albums since then, and We Are Shadows from their 2009 album of the same name is absolutely perfect. Agnes has been a shadow her entire life.
Hold my hand
as we let go
and northern lights
will fill the skies
Until the morning glows
Weʼre shadows, me and you.
The Book: Infidelity by Stacey May Fowles
The Song: Habits by Tove Lo
This song isn’t a great fit for the plot. The book is about a woman in a stable but boring relationship who knows she isn’t cut out for the straight and narrow, so she has an affair with a married writer who is all kinds of wrong for her. The song is about a heartbroken woman who’s trying to fuck the pain away. The common thread is recklessness. And sordidness: there’s a great passage in Infidelity about how you begin an affair in fancy hotel rooms and work your way down, till you’re alone in a seedy motel. And Tove Lo is super sordid:
Pick up daddies at the playground
How I spend my day time
Loosen up the frown,
Make them feel alive
Oh, make it fast and greasy
I’m numb and way too easy
I admit, this is another one of those songs I love to sing in the car. Usually alone, sometimes accompanied by my two year old who loves to sing the “ooh ooh ooh ooh” part.
In writing this, I remembered that I don’t own Infidelity. I will probably change that. My last “affair” was much lower stakes than this, seeing as there were no marriages or kids involved, but Fowles gets that sickly sweet feeling just right.